Q: What’s new and emerging in computer science? If you were in training today, about to choose a thesis area, what subfields would you look at?
E.L.: Computer science is a field of limitless opportunity, and limitless impact. We are terrible at predicting the future: We overestimate what can be achieved in 10 years, and we underestimate what can be achieved in 50. Look back 10 or 12 years. Did we foresee the revolutions in search, Web-scale systems, digital media, mobility, e-commerce, the cloud, social networking, and crowdsourcing? No way! These were barely on the horizon in 2000, and they are part of our everyday lives today.
Here’s one thing that’s certain in the next 10 years: We will put “the smarts” in everything: smart homes, smart cars, smart health, smart robots, smart science (confronting the data deluge), smart crowds and human-computer systems, smart interaction (virtual and augmented reality).
And here’s another thing that’s certain: Every field of discovery will become an “information” field. That’s the “big data” story: Data-driven discovery will become the norm, driven by advances in computer science. Think about biology. [James] Watson and [Francis] Crick discovered the biochemistry of DNA. But what they really discovered is that the human genome is a digital code, which can be read, deciphered, and rewritten. Over several decades, this transformed biology into an information science. Today, if you’re a biologist who is not deeply rooted in “computational thinking,” you’re collecting tadpoles in some swamp. The same is true of an increasing number of fields.
These advances draw upon all of computer science. Today, machine learning is hot. Tomorrow, it will be something else. The only thing for sure is that it will be computer science.
Read more here! (Some of it is perhaps a bit too candid …)